The numbers are important.
This may come as a shock to many people who have been playing along at home with this Blog for over half a decade, but it's true. Having a massive audience is important. This is coming from the person who continually insists that it's not about "how many" people you connect your brand to, but rather "who." There is still a semblance of truth in that concept: having a massive amount of people connected to you, but with little engagement is of little value when compared to a smaller more active and caring audience. But, if you push that concept further: great ideas spread (as Seth Godin always says). Great ideas get traction and people tell other people about whatever it is that you are doing to the point where there is a massive audience for your thoughts and ideas. Pushing that further, it's not so easy to find the right "who" if you're not getting your message out to as many people as you can (unless all of those people are truly self-identifying themselves in a way that makes them easy to find and connect to).
What's with the sudden change?
I was recently watching an episode of Spectacle with Elvis Costello featuring James Taylor. Taylor was regaling the audience with stories from the days of Jimi Hendrix and Carole King as he talked about how lucky he was to have made it through, been successful and still be around to create music. A lot of his reflection seemed to deal with the fact that the life of musician can go in many directions (some positive, but most negative) primarily because of their drive and passion to get their music heard by as many people as possible. That was (and still is) the main purpose in Taylor's life: get many more people to listen to his words and music.
It's an important lesson.
Do I want more followers on Twitter? Do I want more friends on Facebook? Do I wish that more people would buy my book, Six Pixels of Separation? Do I wish that more people would listen to my weekly Podcast? Do I want more comments and readership on this Blog? The answer is yes. Not to compare myself to James Taylor, but that is the main (and primary) reason that I Blog, Podcast, tweet, communicate and connect. I want as many people as possible to read, hear and share the thoughts that I am trying so desperately to share.
There's no shame in that.
Back when I was in the music industry, Metallica used to joke around and say, "are we sell-outs?" when people would ask them if it's at all strange that this band with such street cred grew to such popular heights, "yes, we sell-out every single night that we play!" While that might have been a tongue in cheek deflection of a question, it was the perfect answer. We tend to throw rocks at those who gain mass acceptance as if it's an indicator that they are no longer authentic or credible. I'm just not buying it anymore. James Taylor is authentic (he's looking for a bigger audience). I'm trying to be authentic here (I'm looking for a bigger audience), and your brand or the brands you work for should be trying to do the same.
Don't you think that you're trying to do the same thing?